As part of the Oneida Indian Nation’s Youth Work Learn program, younger participants this summer – known colloquially as The Crew – were able to take a break from weeding and staining decks to visit Colgate University to tour the campus and a few of the school’s departments. The visit offered the group an opportunity to see some of the anthropological and historical artifacts as well as artwork the school’s University Museums cooperative has on display.
This summer, the Crew included Javlyn Aregano (Turtle Clan), Elaina Cook (Wolf Clan), Daelyn Cousineau (Turtle Clan), Beleza Gibson (Turtle Clan) and Larry Torres (Turtle Clan). With a limited schedule due to the pandemic, the group was happy to finally go on a field trip.
The first stop on the tour was to the Longyear Museum of Anthropology. They were joined by Kaytlynn Lynch, Curatorial Assistant and NAGPRA Coordinator for the museum, Rebecca Mendelsohn, Co-Director of University Museums and Curator for the Longyear, and Nation Member Lisa Latocha (Wolf Clan), the Community Liaison for the museum. Kaytlynn is the daughter of Dick Lynch (Turtle Clan) and granddaughter of Norma Jean Fera (1934-2014, Turtle Clan).
Artistry is handed down from generation to generation of Haudenosaunee. One of the feature exhibits curated by Kaytlynn, Makers and Materials of the Americas: A Celebration of Haudenosaunee Creativity and Craftsmanship, explores many of the items of significance in Haudenosaunee culture. The curators also picked out specific pieces that included no-face dolls, baskets and clay pots to show the kids up close outside of what is currently on exhibit.
Next, the group walked over to the Ho Tung Visualization Laboratory and Planetarium, which is housed on the fourth floor of the Robert H.N. Ho Science Center. Joseph Eakin, the Technical Director of the lab, led a discussion on the solar system – along with an interactive video that displayed on the planetarium’s half-sphere screen – and how the Earth has evolved over millennia. He tied it in with some of the Haudenosaunee Creation Story and other Creation stories from other cultures.
Joe then guided the group to the Robert M. Linsley Geology Museum to give them a glimpse of the exhibits that cover Earth’s natural resources like minerals, rocks and fossils. Among the many interesting displays was a full size jawbone of a sperm whale and Colgate’s famous dinosaur egg – one of the first complete dinosaur eggs ever discovered. The group also got to see the fluorescent mineral display; a favorite stop on the tour.
The last stop was to the Dana Arts Center to view contemporary artwork in the Picker Art Gallery. Nicholas West, another Co-Director of University Museums and Curator for the gallery, spoke with the kids about the inspiration behind the current displays, which centered on the technique of printmaking. Everyone in the group picked a piece to learn more about, but the favorite among Elaina, Javlyn and Beleza was a print by Chakaia Booker (American, born 1953) entitled Quality Time (2004) that used melted rubber as the canvas – a unique piece that Nick noted was actually the artist’s first attempt at printmaking.
Before heading back, the Crew and Colgate’s staff posed for a few group photos. The trip with the Nation’s youth has been a great introduction to college life and an opportunity to explore more of the school that sits on the Nation’s ancestral homelands.